Sports on the North Carolina Coast
Every region has its own set of sports that is unique to the area, and Coastal North Carolina is no different. and visitors alike can delve into a number of sports on the water and the land, including local marathons, surfing competitions, kiteboarding competitions, minor league baseball and motorsports. For those who would rather sit on the sidelines, there are a number of local events throughout the year just waiting for fans. On your next Coastal Carolina trip, come check out the many ways to get outside, get active, and have fun.
By far one of the biggest local sports is the Outer Banks Marathon. Coastal North Carolina has a huge "runner's culture", so many marathons have sprung up around the area.
One of the most popular local marathons is the Outer Banks marathon. As you run 26.2 miles through the Outer Banks, you'll see all the beautiful scenery and wildlife that the area has to offer.
The marathon starts in in Kitty Hawk, the birthplace of aviation. Along the course, you'll run through Outer Banks towns whose residents and visitors will encourage you with their applause. Once you reach the eighth mile of the marathon, you reach the Wright Brothers Monument, which is the location of their first flight that took off on December 17, 1903..
As you get to the tenth mile of the marathon, you enter the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve. Past this, around the twelve and a half mile mark, you pass the East Coast's largest sand dune in Jockey's Ridge State Park. It's a very common sight to see hang gliders in this area, as they love the height of the sand dunes and the view they provide.
As you fly towards the front of the pack during the fourteenth through twenty-second miles, you'll be encouraged every mile by people sponsoring the run, including live bands, cheerleaders, and clowns. At mile twenty-three, you begin to cross the Washington-Baum Bridge. This bridge has a 4% elevation grade for about 650 feet, but as you look down 82 feet to the water, you can see charter fishing boats going into the water to catch the very food you're likely to eat that night at a local restaurant. From the bridge, you have an incredible view of the Roanoke Sounds and Roanoke Island, where the very first English American colony was settled. This colony is known as the world-famous Lost Colony of Roanoke, so named as nobody knows to this day what happened to those settlers. The remainder of the marathon will take you to downtown Manteo, where fans will cheer you on towards your victory.
If a half marathon is more your thing, there is also the Outer Banks Half Marathon. This marathon starts in Nags Head, which is halfway through the regular marathon, and from there features the exact same scenery as the standard marathon.
The Outer Banks is also home to many shorter runs, including the Outer Banks 8K, and the Buccaneer 5K and Outer Banks Fun Run. The Outer Banks 8K starts at First Flight High School in Nags Head and goes through the Nags Head Woods Maritime Forest, ending at the High School. If you don't want to run, you can also walk the 8K. The Buccaneer 5K also begins at First Flight High School, and goes along Old Nags Head Woods Road, finishing at First Flight.
If you're looking more for a run to do with your whole family, the Outer Banks Fun Run is for you. The original purpose of the run was for you to run 25 miles over the course of a month before the Fun Run, and then to get your last 1.2 miles along with everyone else, so you would cumulatively run a full-length marathon. Since then, the rules of the race have changed and you no longer have to acquire 25 miles prior to the actual race. The Fun Run is now an event for the whole family, with a 1.2 mile walk being accompanied by many family activities. Many of these activities are pirate-based, such as a photo opportunity with Blackbeard's crew, Pirate Tattoos, and an activity called "Walk the Plank."
Of course, the Outer Banks runs aren't the only ones in the area. The Oak Island Lighthouse 5K, 10K and half-marathon are all very popular area runs, and they all begin and end at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.
The event started with just a 10K, which was started at the suggestion of a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel and organized by the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce. The 5K began in 2006 when Chairman Seth Robbins of the Chamber of Commerce suggested that some people didn't want to run the local G.V. Barbee Oak Island Bridge, a difficult part of the run. By 2012, the runs became so popular that a half-marathon was demanded, so it was added to the repertoire of runs. 2012 is also the first year that the runs start and end at Fort Caswell.